Police remove dead hunter's body from bush

TOM HUNT
Last updated 21:52 08/04/2012

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Wairarapa

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LATEST: Police say they know the circumstances surrounding the death of a young hunter in the Wairarapa, but are not releasing any details of the shooting.

Detective Senior Sergeant Sean Hansen said four people from another hunting party - who were in the same area as the shot hunter and his companion - were interviewed last night.

Further witnesses were being spoken to today, but no-one had yet been charged with his death.

Police were appealing for other hunters who were in the same part of the Aorangi Forest Park yesterday to come forward.

“This man’s death is a tragedy and a sad reminder to everyone to take extreme caution when out hunting, ensuring the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council’s Firearms Safety Code is adhered to at all times. That includes identifying your target beyond reasonable doubt.”

Police removed the body from a steep, remote section of Wairarapa's Aorangi Forest Park this evening.

The man, in his late 20s, was shot dead yesterday afternoon.

A police communications spokeswoman said the police were working at the scene were the man was shot, about two hours from the nearest road, Humes Rd.

Police would not release the name until the man was formally identified, after an autopsy was completed.

This was likely to be tomorrow.

Detective Senior Sergeant Sean Hansen, of Wairarapa CIB, said the man's hunting companion, a 59-year-old man, phoned police shortly before 2pm to report the death.

It is unknown what the man was hunting when he died.

The death comes only a week after "extreme cautions" for safety were issued by the Mountain Safety Council.

It follows the deaths of three people in hunting accidents last year alone.

Many hunters around the country have been heading into the bush ahead of the red deer mating season, which generally starts in late March.

More commonly known as "the Roar" it was a time of year that required extreme caution, said Mike Spray of the Mountain Safety Council.

Over the past 10 years, there were eight hunter deaths and three others seriously injured, usually when one hunter has shot a companion or other hunter while deer hunting.

"Failure to identify the target properly before shooting is a primary factor," Spray said.

Identifying a target beyond all doubt was one of the seven basic rules of safe firearms handling.

"No shooter should ever fire at shape, colour, movement or sound," said Spray.

In eight of the 11 incidents of death and injury, the shooter and victim were in the same party.

RECENT GUN TRAGEDIES

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  • December 2011: Reuben Burke, 24, shot friend Dougal Fyfe, 23, after he mistook him for a deer. He pleaded guilty to careless use of a firearm earlier this month. He will be sentenced in the the Queenstown District Court on May 14.
  • May 2011: Waiuku farmer Barrie Bright, 57, accidentally shot brother Phillip, 53, on the first day of duck shooting season. The 57-year-old had been drinking before the accident. He pleaded guilty to careless use of a firearm causing death and received seven months' home detention.
  • October 2010: Lower Hutt school teacher Rosemary Ives, 25, was shot from about 20 metres as she was cleaning her teeth at a Conservation Department campground near Turangi. Andrew Mears, 26, served 11 months' imprisonment for her manslaughter, which occurred when he was illegally spotlighting at night with three friends and mistook Ives' headlamp for the eyes of a deer.

- The Dominion Post

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